Let’s face it, connecting flights can suck. Well, maybe not. If you’re a savvy traveler, layovers can be fun. You get the opportunity to see a place you might not have seen otherwise, and you also get to extend your vacation ever so slightly. For the sake of this article, let’s assume you have a layover between 4 – 24 hours. Any less and you should probably stay at the airport. Any longer, and you should definitely get a hotel for the night.
Quite a few airports offer free guided tours. I recently had a layover in Seoul, South Korea and discovered that they offer free guided tours to various parts of Incheon and Seoul. I was able to book the tour upon arrival at the tour desk, and was given a few options on what places I’d like to visit. The tour included an English speaking tour guide, as well as a free welcome gift at the end. I had a fantastic time on the tour and glad I was able to see a bit of South Korea before heading home.
If the airport you’re at is close to a city, try taking public transportation into the city to explore a bit. Sample some of the local foods or even visit a museum. You could even stop at the beach for a swim. In some countries, a taxi driver might even offer to show you around (for a price).
Quite a few resorts will let you use their facilities if you ask nicely (and sometimes buy food and/or a drink). On a recent trip to Thailand, I had a late night flight and instead of going to the airport, I went to a nearby resort. I simply told the front desk that I had a late night flight and was wondering if I could use their pool for a few hours. They were more than happy to let me stay and even offered to shuttle me to the airport.
Everyone loves duty free. Take the time to shop! Airports are usually filled with high end brands and items. Best of all, it’s all duty free.
Some airports are starting to offer even more. Incheaon Airport is one of the best airports for layovers as they offer everything from free tours (see above) to ice skating, movies, a casino, multiple museums and live music, gardens, golfing, even laundry and medical services. Be sure to check what amenities are offered so you can take advantage of them.
Have a few hours to kill? If you are able to work remotely, it might be a good time to get those few extra hours in. Find a nice quiet place and do your thing.
Eat & Drink
Airplane food is horrible. Take this opportunity to enjoy a nice meal. There is usually a good (and somewhat expensive) selection, but it sure beats eating on the plane.
Know someone that lives nearby? Now is your chance to see them! Contact your friend and see if they can rescue you from the airport temporarily. I’ve had countless times where I’ve been stuck at the airport only to realize my friend lives only 15 mins away. Usually I try to get out of the airport and meet them for lunch, even if only for a couple hours.
There are always things to do on a layover, even if they aren’t entirely obvious. No matter what you decide to do on your layover, try to at least stretch your legs and walk around as you’ll soon be back in the air.